Todd Kline

Todd Kline
Todd Kline is a man of many talents. Former pro surfer, former marketing director at Quiksilver, surf commentator, and these days, professional Bass fisherman. He was driving across Florida when I got him on the phone. Just back from a family fishing trip, heading to Orlando for the ICAST tradeshow, we chatted about the many different phases of his professional life. Most recently being awarded the WON Bass Angler of the Year. Not many people can do what Todd does, so naturally we had to pick his brain to see how the magic happens. Turns out preparation and diligence go a long way.

The Word with Todd Kline

Where are you based right now?
I live in San Clemente full time. I’m here in Florida right now visiting family. I just got back from a fishing trip with my brother to the Bahamas today. Now I'm driving to Orlando for the ICAST trade show, which is the world's largest tackle show. It's like the Surf Expo on steroids for fishing.
How different are the industries from surfing to fishing?
I feel you can always draw parallels to anything. But there's a lot of a lot of similarities. At the end of the day people just aspire to be outdoors and enjoy nature. For me, I get a lot out of out of fishing that I still get out of surfing. Unplugging and getting entrenched in the outdoors.
Let’s back up a little bit. You have history in surfing, but you grew up fishing, right?
I lived inland in Florida, so I grew up fishing. I started surfing when I was 14 and everything changed, I just went full speed on the surf thing. It was around 18 that I started making a little money. And then I moved to California at 21. I ended up making a living through surfing for five years. I had an opportunity to go in house at Quiksilver, and it was a hybrid deal in the beginning to see if I could make that transition from surfing to actual work. They gave me an opportunity and I decided to wind down the surfing and ramp up the work. 16 years later, that's what I did.
And during that whole period were you fishing or were you just focused on the job at hand?
I wasn't fishing much because it was it was pre internet and I didn't even know that you really could bass fish in California. I came from Florida where you can go a mile in any direction and there's water, and California is a desert. I figured I couldn't fast fish out in CA and the saltwater scene is a lot more seasonal out west than it is here. In Florida there's a thriving year-round fishing scene because there's always so much warm water.
And you just got back from a fishing trip to the Bahamas?
We went to the Florida Keys and did a little family fishing trip down there. Getting the kids on fish, making sure they were having fun. After that my brother and I went to the Bahamas. He’s four years older than me and we'd never really traveled together just the two of us. We were on a small island out there, only two miles by two miles.
How's the fishing out there?
It's beautiful. I mean, it's, it's not like it was when we were younger, but it's still phenomenal. We didn't catch anything too crazy on this trip, but every day we caught enough to eat.
You won the Bass Angler of the Year last year?
How do you get that title? What's your secret to becoming the best Angler?
I always try and draw parallels for my surf buddies, but it's kind of like the QS that I compete on. And it's the same thing where it's accumulated points and then at the end of the season whoever has the most points is awarded Angler of the Year. It’s a cool accomplishment because it shows consistency. I was able to do that last year, and this year I got my first big win on the pro side. 
How many events is that?
There are two different organizations that I fish with in the West. One is called WON Bass, they have four tournaments a year. And then there's Major League fishing, which is a much bigger platform. They have three events and if you qualify you go to the National Championships, which is always somewhere back East. It's all the best guys, and first place is 200 grand.
Ok, you're in a competition. Where do you decide to cast first?
I always try and go at least for four to five days prior to each tournament. I try and scout the water, using electronics to find the different contours, rock piles, trees underwater, just different things that the fish will relate to. Also, try and figure out what they are feeding on. Are they eating crawdads? Piecing together all those different pieces of the equation. You really have to dial it in. Once you find out they're on the outside, let's say rock piles, what am I going to do to get them to bite? Once you get a couple and its good quality fish, then you either cut your hooks off or you put a piece of plastic over it so that you can't hook them. You want to know that they are there and get the bites and that you make waypoints on your electronics. And then once the tournament starts, you run that.
Okay? So you just trust your preparation.
Yeah, things do change and you have to adjust when that happens. If it gets windy, and all of a sudden it’s all muddy now, you have to adjust. But if you if you have a solid blueprint going into it, you're usually pretty well off.
You are a fishing guide as well. What are you telling your clients when you take them out on your boat?
it's kind of unique to each client, you have to see where they're at. They might tell you one thing on the phone, and I've seen it on both sides, where a guy basically telling me he surfed pipeline, and then when you get him there, you have to put the leash on his ankle. Then you have the other guy that says they’re not that good, but he is actually a pretty good angler. You just have to cater it each time differently. And then, even though there might be a better opportunity to catch fish, if their skills don't warrant, the technique they're going to need to do, you don’t even mention it.
What gets you up in the morning?
I just love the outdoors. Being around the water, in the mountains, whatever it is. I like the wilderness. If I have multiple days booked to take clients fishing, and I have to get up at 3:45am  a few days in a row in the morning. It’s tiring. But as soon as you get on the road and you're backing your boat down the ramp, and the suns just creeping over the mountains and the birds are chirping and the fish are flashing. I’m always in awe that this is my office. And I’m immediately psyched.
Where are you taking these tours?
The furthest north I go is Lake Paris. And then the furthest south I'll go is lower Otay, which is basically down at the border in San Diego. And there's half a dozen in between there. I just try and stay on what's the fishing the best at the time.
What pair of Electrics are you wearing out on the water? Do you have a specific pair that you like?
My favorite is the is the Mahi with the low light, Yellow Polarized Pro. Good polarized sunglasses, for fishing as a whole but especially bass fishing, are a necessity not an accessory. Whether you're trying to see the fish or trying to see the structure that's underwater, or you're looking for the bait or whatever it is, without a good pair of sunglasses, you're still going to catch fish but not nearly the amount you would if you had a good pair.
What does that attribute to?
The polarized lenses just knock that surface glare out. I've had a ton of trips where clients are wearing some of the other brands that are very “well established” in the fishing world. And I'm like, “There it is right there. Cast, cast!” And they're hesitant because they can’t see the fish. I let them try on my sunglasses with that low light lens and they are blown away at what they can see under the water.
Do you have goals set for yourself in fishing? Or is it just about being out on the water, like you said, being in nature?
For me, winning the Angler of the Year last year and this year getting my first win on a professional level. I've always loved competing, since surfing professionally back in the day. I can't surf at that competition level at my age, but I still have that competitive drive. And the crazy thing about fishing is that you have to be a bit of a damn biologist to be good. Every day you're trying to take down the equation of what's going on out there. More time on the water gives you more education, the guys that are consistent are just extremely knowledgeable.
What's next for you this summer and going forward throughout the rest of the year?
So I'm at ICAST. Right now, like I said, I've got some commitments for some of my sponsors, I just sold my boat two weeks ago before I came on this trip. My new one is getting outfitted right now. And when I get back, hopefully it's ready. If not, it'll be a few days after. I'll be getting a new boat and getting that all sorted out. Continuing with my guiding and then we've got two more tournaments to go. I've got the National Championship again this year, which is in Springfield, Missouri.
That's exciting, new boat. How long has that been in the making?
It’s just been a matter of getting everything to align, working out the details with my sponsor, Triton. The perfect storm happened where I had a buyer for mine and was able to turn and burn right into a new model that just came out that Triton wants to market out west. It'll be the first one in California, which is pretty awesome.
What are some words that you live by?
“Anything in life is won or lost between your ears. It's all your mindset.”